A lot of basketball dreams will become reality Thursday night, but the NBA Draft has a lot of people snoozing. Yes, we know about Ben Simmons, and we know about Brandon Ingram. Outside of those players, though, who else is there to really sink your teeth into?
Answer: Not much.
“You want to be in the top eight or top nine in this draft,” SLAM Magazine and Five Star Basketball CEO Leigh Klein said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Past that, there’s not a lot of difference between guys that are going to be taken in the teens compared to guys that are going to be taken in the second round. So I think it’s lacking depth, and, quite honestly, it’s lacking star power. We’ve been spoiled. We’ve had guys like Karl-Anthony Towns and we’ve been talking about (Jabari) Parker and (Andrew) Wiggins. These are guys that we were so excited to see get drafted because we really felt they would transition immediately to being standouts in the league. And I think this year when we look at this crop of talent, we say, ‘Simmons, Ingram, it’s going to take some time.’ So I don’t think they’ll have the impact as quickly as teams hope that they would have for guys that are going to be picked in the top five.”
The 76ers intend to make Simmons the No. 1 overall pick in large part because he has the highest ceiling of any player in the draft. But even he isn’t a guaranteed star.
“The hope is that Ben Simmons will start to find his game in the next two or three years and extend his shot,” Klein said. “The ceiling is higher for him if these different things could come quicker than not. The big thing that I think that we miss when we look at the draft is there’s sort of an environment that you can succeed. Certain teams provide that environment a lot easier than others. So to me, as big a question as anything else that I wonder is (whether) Philadelphia (is) the right environment for Ben Simmons to be successful? I don’t know that we could say that’s the case.”
But why not? Why can’t Philly be that environment?
“There’s just not enough winning pieces, established winning pieces, around (there),” Klein said. “Losing becomes a culture, and it’s hard to learn from guys who haven’t figured out what it takes to be selfless to win. That’s what I would be concerned about as you look to bring in another talented, young, hyped prospect that’s making his guaranteed money and sneaker money. What is it going to take to win in a meaningful way in the NBA? You need a guy that’s gone through that. You need to bring in a veteran. Maybe Philly can bring in a guy that’s going bring somebody to mentor these young talented players on how to be a successful team player.”
As for value picks, Klein likes Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell, Oakland’s Kay Felder, and Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon.
“I think there’s a lot of value deep in the draft that’s not a whole lot different than what you’re going to hear picked (early),” Klein said, “which is a lot of international players and (players with potential), guys that are terrific athletes.”